Walmart and the Walmart Foundation announced a $2 billion cash and in-kind commitment today, stepping up efforts to help end hunger in America. The new five-year initiative,"Fighting Hunger Together," includes four key components:
According to a November 2009 United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) report, hunger rates in the U.S. are the highest since 1995 with nearly 15 percent of households lacking access to an adequate supply of nutritious food. Walmart expects its cash and in-kind gifts of fresh produce, meat, dairy and other foods to provide more than 1 billion meals to these needy families.
"Increasingly, we see opportunities to use our scale and reach to solve challenges in our communities. This is one of those times," said Eduardo Castro-Wright, Walmart's vice chairman."By working together, we believe we can reach a day where no individual in this country has to go to bed hungry or worry if there will be food to put on the table tomorrow."
Castro-Wright announced the company's plans on Capitol Hill today, joined by USDA Undersecretary for Food, Nutrition, and Consumer Services Kevin Concannon; Senate Hunger Caucus Co-Chairwoman Sen. Blanche Lincoln, D-Ark.; House Hunger Caucus Co-Chairmen Rep. Jim McGovern, D-Mass.; Rep. Jo Ann Emerson, R-Mo.; Rep. John Boozman, R-Ark.; and Terry Shannon, president and CEO of St. Mary's Food Bank Alliance in Phoenix – the first food bank in the U.S.
"Solving the problem of hunger in America will require help from partners at all levels – government, nonprofit organizations and the private sector – acting together," said Concannon."Walmart's five-year commitment of money and resources, coupled with its outreach to employees and customers, will help meet the nutrition needs of countless children and families across our country."
Today, the Walmart Foundation announced the first grants as part of this commitment:
These and other efforts are designed to help improve the efficiency of the U.S. food bank system, make nutritious food more accessible and provide long-term solutions to eradicating hunger.
"We are genuinely thankful to Walmart for their sustained commitment to fighting domestic hunger," said Vicki Escarra, president and CEO of Feeding America."With 49 million Americans struggling with hunger, our country is in crisis. Walmart's multi-year contribution will help give Feeding America and our nationwide network of more than 200 food banks the latitude to more effectively serve the 37 million people who turn to us every year for assistance with access to nutritious food that is needed more than ever before. No one should go hungry and we thank Walmart for supporting our mission for a hunger-free America."
Walmart will help each of its 1.4 million U.S. associates and the 140 million customers who shop its stores every week find opportunities to support food banks, senior meal delivery programs and other hunger relief organizations in their communities. More details on how customers can get involved will be announced this summer.
Last year, when high levels of unemployment placed greater demands on U.S. food banks, Walmart doubled its food donations, providing 81 million more pounds of food than the prior year. The company's contributions made up 45 percent of donations from retailers to Feeding America food banks. The company also helped to feed more than 93,000 children in 2009 through a donation to the Boys and Girls Club of America's summer feeding program.
For more information, including a state-by-state list of Walmart's planned food donations over the next five years or to find local volunteer opportunities, visit www.walmartgiving.com.
The Walmart Foundation President Margaret McKenna will participate in a live conference call for media on May 12 at 12:30 p.m. EDT. Get information to participate here .
*Editor's Note: According to the USDA, 1.28 pounds of food is equivalent to one meal. Walmart and the Walmart Foundation expect cash and in-kind donations to help U.S. food banks deliver 1.4 billion pounds of food to food banks by the end of 2015 – the equivalent of more than 1 billion meals.
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Feeding America is the nationwide network of 200 food banks that leads the fight against hunger in the United States. Together, we provide food to more than 46 million people through 60,000 food pantries and meal programs in communities across America. Feeding America also supports programs that improve food security among the people we serve; educates the public about the problem of hunger; and advocates for legislation that protects people from going hungry. Individuals, charities, businesses and government all have a role in ending hunger. Donate. Volunteer. Advocate. Educate. Together we can solve hunger. Visit www.feedingamerica.org, find us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter.